In the four and a half years I’ve lived in Wiesbaden, I’ve rarely visited the nearby city of Frankfurt. Somewhat put off by its reputation as a dull finance and transport hub whose workforce flee from it at weekends, I’ve always travelled there for specific purposes – gigs, markets, visiting friends – rather than simply to explore. I do realise there’s much more to Frankfurt than skyscrapers and shopping, I just never knew where to start with finding out what exactly that is. So, when Eat The World invited me to join their walking tour of Frankfurt’s Nordend district, I grabbed the opportunity with glee: what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than exploring somewhere new and sampling lots of food along the way?
Our group of 10 gathered at midday, an interesting mix of students, expats, locals and tourists, and we were met by our English-speaking local guide Karen, who began with a brief introduction to the area. We had assembled at the leafy but rather scruffy Friederberger Platz, home to a weekly Friday food market and the regular, chaotic drinking session that follows it; and as we stood there, Karen gave us a quick rundown of the area’s recent history, one involving rioting students and intriguing political rumour. These days, this eastern side of Frankfurt’s Nordend (Nordend-Ost) that we were about to explore is a vibrant, gentrified neighbourhood with a slightly bohemian air, a plethora of thriving independent businesses and plenty of very expensive apartments.
Karen took us to seven very different culinary locations during the three hour tour, from a certified organic burger bar to a fancy chocolatier and all manner of eateries in between. These were all independent businesses, often family-run, the sort of places you don’t tend to stumble upon as a tourist but frequent as a local, and at each stop we were treated to a small sample of their food, from rustic sweet potato fries to exquisite chocolate pralines. (The food is all included of the price of the tour – drinks cost extra.)
I was particularly impressed, in terms of both food and ethos, by Main Gemüse and Suppengrün, a conjoined vegetable store and soup café where we were served a beautifully spiced curried pumpkin soup; and Schweiger’s Mint, a coffee and ice cream shop that sells vegan as well as lactose- and gluten-free ice creams and sorbets as well as waffles, crepes and prettily-packaged gifts for the (very) sweet-toothed. The dulce de leche ice cream I chose there was delicious: wonderfully creamy and not too sweet.
As we wandered through the neighbourhood between food stops, exploring not just the eastern Nordend’s residential and commercial streets but also its beautiful botanical gardens, Karen encouraged us to take in all the sights and smells and explained the cultural, political and historical significance of various points of interest along the way. She also didn’t shy away from mentioning the area’s current social issues such as poverty and housing problems, unafraid to show us the “real” Frankfurt Nordend-Ost rather than a glossy touristic version of it. And her passion for the local businesses we visited was also obvious – she even did some of her weekly shop along the way!
Each of the locations we visited prepares and serves their food samples to fit with the tour’s schedule. This means that though the tour feels relaxed, it’s well structured and keeps to time, though since these businesses are also dealing with their usual Saturday custom, they’re unable to reserve tables and so there’s not often a place to sit down whilst you eat. It’s also not possible for them to cater for food allergies or intolerances, though if you advise Eat The World in advance then your guide is at least able to let you know when there’s something you shouldn’t eat during the tour.
A food expedition by foot was a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon in a pleasant, leafy corner of Germany’s fifth largest city. It was well organised, interesting and relaxed; and Karen was an enthusiastic guide with a clear fondness for the area in which she lives. Despite the fact we sampled food from seven outlets during the course of the tour, it didn’t equate to a proper lunch, so I wouldn’t advise joining the tour ravenously hungry (!), however if you’ve three hours to spare in Frankfurt and fancy a small culinary adventure, I highly recommend exploring this hip, friendly neighbourhood with Eat The World.
You can see the rest of my photos from the tour on Instagram.
I was a guest of Eat The World on their Frankfurt Nordend Walking Food Tour, priced at 30€ per person for the tour and food tastings, excluding drinks. Tours are available in both English and German. Further details including how to book can be found on the Eat The World website.